I don’t mean to come across as celebrating the misfortunes of others — in fact, I’m not — but I am happy that Florida police took cyberbullying seriously. NPR reports a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old harassed a classmate, bullying her via Facebook messages and texts and in person, leading to the suicide of the victim, a seventh-grader. Both girls have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.
As a mom of a kid who endured middle school bullying, it infuriates me how often kids tap into technology to torment others. Further, it infuriates me how little parents pay attention to what their kids are doing online. If you’re a parent who has allowed your kids to use the internet and/or a cell phone, it is your responsibility to talk to them about responsible use. It is critical that you pay attention to their posts and their friends’ posts. It is NOT OK to shrug off social media as “something kids do” and think that you don’t need to know how to use these tools and, further, teach your children how to use them properly. It’s just way too easy for kids to feel anonymous and safe doing something terribly wrong online, simply because not enough of the right people are paying attention.
If you don’t know enough about online tools to keep up with your kids, get some help. Take a class or watch an online tutorial. Ask a friend. Ask me! But don’t let your kids be attacked virtually without anyone of authority knowing about it.